The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, (IMN) also known as Shi’ites, has rejected the report of the Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry, set up by the Kaduna State Government to probe the December 12-14 clash between members of the movement and soldiers of the Nigerian Army in Zaria.
Addressing a press conference in Kaduna on Thursday, Chairman, Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee, Abdurrahman Abubakar Yola, blamed what he termed as ‘massacre’ of the IMN members in Zaria on President Muhammadu Buhari.
Yola alleged that not only was the president briefed ahead of the killings of Shi’ites in Zaria, he (Buhari) sanctioned and ordered it.
No fewer than 300 members of the Shi’ite sect were killed last December when they clashed with soldiers in Zaria. The Nigerian Army said it acted in self-defence when ‘armed’ members of the movement attempted to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, whose convoy was prevented from using the highway that passed in front of the sect’s spiritual headquarters in the town.
The Justice Garba panel, which submitted its report last month, apportioned blame to the leader of the sect, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, the federal and state governments as well as the Army, which it accused of high-handedness and not adhering to the rules of engagement in applying lethal force on the Shi’ite members.
But the group rejected the findings of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, saying that the government which set up the commission had already made up its mind that IMN was guilty, while the panel equally allegedly ensured that Sheikh El-Zakzaky did not get a hearing.
“It seems fairly obvious that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry (JCI) was a typical commission with a pre-determined mandate and report. Consequently, we reject the report and its recommendations”, the Free Zakzaky Campaign Committee chair said.
On the allegation that Buhari ordered the alleged ‘killings’ of the Shi’ite’s members, Yola said, “Allegation of forming a parallel authority by the IMN is a time-long allegation. It was one that even President, Muhammadu Buhari mentioned with so much disgust and animosity during his maiden media chat. He repeated the same as the reason why his government had to clamp down violently on the IMN while fielding questions on a foreign TV news channel in Qatar.
“It was also the clearest indication that the President was not only briefed about the clampdown, he sanctioned and ordered it”.
He argued that if the federal and state governments are sincere in their claim to do justice on what transpired in Zaria, they should as a matter of urgency release El-Zakzaky, whose health is said to be fast deteriorating in government custody.